Readers’ Pick: Best Album of 2013: Willie Nile, “American Ride”

Willie Nile, American Ride

And so it has been decided. With 270 votes out of a total of 873, Willie Nile‘s “American Ride” beat out Jason Isbell‘s “Southeastern” for the official Twangville readers favorite album of 2013. Thanks to all who participated. We’ll include your picks into our fancy algorithm for the soon to be released official Twangville author picks.

You might be wondering what Willie has to say about his prestigious new honor. Why don’t we let him tell you himself:

Official Twangville Readers’ Top 20 Picks of 2013

Thank you, Willie Nile, for the kind acceptance video.

Photos that ROCK! Best of 2013!

Photos that ROCK! Best of 2013!

I am INSANELY lucky that I get to listen to amazing music AND take pictures- 2 of my favorite things. Here are some of my favorite shots from various venues around Boston in 2013. What a year!

Tom McBride @ Lizard Lounge, March 2013

Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band @ House of Blues Boston, May 2013

Hem @ The Sinclair, June 2013

Twangville Music Showcase @ Lizard Lounge (pictured here: Bill Janovitz & Stephen Kellogg), June 2013

Barnstar! @ Outside the Box Festival, Boston Common, July 2013

David Wax Museum @ Outside the Box Festival, Government Center, August 2013

Joe Fletcher, Amanda Shires, & Jason Isbell @ The Sinclair, August 2013

Sarah Borges & Eilen Jewel @ The Center for the Arts Natick (pictured: Sarah Borges), October 2013

Deer Tick @ The Met, Rhode Island Dudesmash Festival, October 2013

Travis @ House of Blues Boston, November 2013

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds @ The Sinclair, December 2013

Session Americana @ Lizard Lounge (various dates)

David Wax Museum @ The Sinclair, December 2013

Thank you to everyone who has viewed my photos and followed my posts!!! Check out more photos at www.facebook.com/suzannedavisphotography

Shawn’s Favorites of 2013

Some years it’s easier than others to pick my favorite albums of the year.  (I’ll refrain from calling them the best since I know there’s a lot of good music I didn’t hear.)  This year wasn’t really one of them; the top 5-6 were still on top of my playlist, some of them for the better part of the entire year.

Southeastern cover  1. Jason Isbell – Southeastern   It didn’t take much thinking to realize this was going to be on the top of my list.  It’s not always easy to listen to–there’s a lot of pain and turmoil in the songs.  Frankly, I started to hit play a few times over the last several months and decided I just wasn’t up to the emotions in the album.  But it’s high praise when a record can evoke that kind of reaction in me.

Holly cover-150x150 2. Holly Williams – The Highway   There’s plenty of emotion on this album, too, but it’s a little more refined and melodic.  Until this came out in the spring, I didn’t realize the Williams progeny included anyone except Hank II and III.  With The Highway, Holly vaulted to the top of the family in my book with some songs that would have done her granddad proud.

Mavericks-cover-150x150 3. The Mavericks – In Time   It’s been 8 years since Raul Malo and his bandmates put out an album and it was worth the wait.  The songs, the musicianship, the production, it’s all great.  You sit back and Malo’s voice takes you to another time and place.  Superb.

Chapman cover 4. Marshall Chapman – Blaze Of Glory   The opening cut, Love In the Wind, was definitely my favorite song of the year.  As expected, the guitar work on the album is awesome and a reminder of why Chapman was hailed as one of the next great guitar gods early in her career.  On this record the guitar ranges from surf punk to Les Paul-style jazz riffs.  The songwriting is good, as well.  There’s not a clunker in the batch.

Sadies-cover-150x150 5. The Sadies – Internal Sounds   The brothers Good put out the best rock and roll album I heard this year.  Lots of jangly, searing electric guitar parts to keep you banging the table in front of you.  While the band got a lot of its early notoriety backing up more famous names, they’re clearly worthy of headlining on their own.

NekoCase_TheWorseThingsGet 6. Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight.  The Harder I Fight, the More I Love You.   Case brings back some of her punk roots, with several songs featuring NSFW lyrics.  She can sing anything live that she records, so the overproduction on some of the vocals is all that marred an otherwise fantastic album.

Son-Volt-cover-150x150 7. Son Volt – Honky Tonk   Uncle Tupelo co-founder Jay Farrar gets back to his country music roots.  It’s the best thing he’s done in a decade.

Wood-Bros-cover-150x150 8. The Wood Brothers – The Muse   Blues and jazz with a healthy dose of twang is how I’d describe the effort from Oliver and Chris Wood.  Plenty of attitude, too.

MD_Cover-150x150 9. I See Hawks In L.A. – Mystery Drug  One of the most under-the-radar bands in the country, the Hawks continue their stories about life in modern California.  In addition to perhaps the best song ever written about paying your dues as a musician, We Could All Be In Laughlin Tonight, the boys have several tales of suburban blight on this record.

Elephant Revival_cover 10. Elephant Revival – These Changing Skies   Cerebral folk with soaring harmonies and jazzy instrumental licks are the hallmark of this Colorado band and their latest album keeps up the good work.

Honorable Mention   A few other records missed the top 10 cut by a hair and are well worth checking out if you haven’t already.  In no particular order: Donna the Buffalo – Tonight, Tomorrow, And Yesterday; Shinyribs – Gulf Coast Museum; Melody Walker & Jacob Groopman – We Made It Home; Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers – Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers; Della Mae – This World Oft Can Be.

Mayer’s Picks: Best Songs of 2013

I posted a best songs list for the first half of 2013 back in July (here). Rather than replicate that list for my full year review, consider this the continuation — the best songs from the second half of the year.


Closed Hand, Full of Friends, Foy Vance
(from the Glassnote Records release Joy of Nothing)

Vance’s writing is filled with an alluring mysticism and an uplifting spirit that will pick you up on even the darkest of days, to wit: “I will find my means to an end, with an open-hearted hope and a closed hand, full of friends.”

Watching him perform this song at the Bushmills Distillery is just the icing on the cake. The liquid kind of icing, that is.


Alone in Memphis, Austin Lucas
(from the New West Records release Stay Reckless)

When I wrote about Lucas earlier this month, I talked about him as a country crooner fronting a rock band. The album version of this song rocks through and through, so here’s the acoustic version to prove my point.


My Favorite Picture of You, Guy Clark
(from the Dualtone Music Group release My Favorite Picture of You)

Clark’s ode to his late wife is simply stunning.


When the Moment Comes, Mia Dyson
(from the Black Door Records release The Moment)

The title track from Dyson’s latest release bursts with infectious energy and fervor. I’m always overcome by a spontaneous need to crank it up every time I hear it.


Handyman Blues, Billy Bragg
(from the Essential Music release Tooth and Nail)

This is one of those songs that is brilliant in its simplicity and charm.

Don’t be expecting me to put up shelves or build a garden shed
But I can write a song that tells the world how much I love you instead
I’m not any good at pottery so let’s lose the ‘t’ and just shift back the ‘e’
And I’ll find a way to make my poetry build a roof over our heads


Evelyn, Andrew Duhon
(from the self-released The Moorings)

I had a tough time narrowing it down to just one song from Duhon’s latest release. There’s the mesmerizing ballad “Feel It in My Soul” and the Louisiana bluesy groove of “Feelin’ Low Down,” but it’s the rich storytelling and melancholy melody of this song that keeps drawing me back.


Just One Night, Patrick Sweany
(from the Nine Mile Records release Close to the Floor)

Sweany throws rock, soul and blues in a blender and comes up with songs that sound simultaneously fresh and timeless. It’s hard to escape the soulful groove on this one. I certainly can’t.

Patrick Sweany

Audio Download: Patrick Sweany, “Just One Night”

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Sometimes the Grass Is Greener, Robbie Fulks
(from the Bloodshot Records release Gone Away Backward)

Even if it wasn’t such an enticing bluegrass gem, Fulk’s ode to life in the music business would have made this list for the chorus alone.

Now I’ve seen the sun go down on the streets of New York town
And I watched it from the hills of old Virginia
Beauty’s what the eye beholds,
One man’s dirt is another’s gold
And sometimes the grass is really greener.


Love in the Worst Degree, Shannon McNally
(from the Sacred Sumac Music release Small Town Talk)

McNally, with help from Dr. John and the Lower 911 Band, paid tribute to the late Bobby Charles by recording an album of his songs. Their spirited performances breathe new life into these classic songs, hopefully introducing new legions of new fans to the Charles catalog.


Dreamin’, Please Please Me
(from the self-released Shake a Little Harder)

This is one of those occasions when the title is the perfect match for the song, a wistful and haunting piece of pop perfection.


Down at the Heel, The Silks
(from the self-released Last American Band)

How’s this for a 1970’s style classic rock song, complete with fuzzy guitar and cowbell. A glorious racket!


Key Bump, Faithless Town
(from the self-released American Refugee)

I love rock songs that walk the line between abandon and restraint. Put this one on that list.


Click here for more Twangville Best of 2013 coverage.

Mayer’s Picks: More Favorites from 2013

I had a tough time narrowing down my list of favorite albums to just ten. So here, in no particular order, are a few more favorites from 2013.

Blunderstone Rookery
Stephen Kellogg

Close to the Floor
Patrick Sweany

Stay Reckless
Austin Lucas


Studebaker
Mando Saenz

The Moorings
Andrew Duhon

Truth Be Sold
Leeroy Stagger


Electric
Richard Thompson

American Ride
Willie Nile

Small Town Talk
Shannon McNally


Joy of Nothing
Foy Vance

The Highway
Holly Williams

Lower Reaches
Justin Currie


Cavalcade
Cold Satellite

The Maybe Boys
Toy Soldiers

We Need Medicine
The Fratellis


Click here for more Twangville Best of 2013 coverage.